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Jewesses with Attitude

Mazel Tov, Nancy Kaufman!

Nancy Kaufman, a longtime friend of the Jewish Women’s Archive, has been named the new CEO of the National Council for Jewish Women (NCJW). NCJW’s President Nancy Ratzan described Kaufman in terms that would be familiar to anyone who has worked with her:

Nancy is a dynamic, bold, and visionary leader, who is devoted to NCJW’s commitment to deliver the voices and actions of progressive Jewish women as a powerful force for social change. 

A native of Brookline, MA, Nancy Kaufman has served as the head of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) in Boston for the past 20 years, where she became known as a staunch advocate for social justice and Israel. She received an honorary doctorate in public service from Northeastern University in 2001 as well as the Woman of Valor Award in 2007 from Jewish Funds for Justice. “Nancy has transformed the Greater Boston Jewish community during her celebrated career at JCRC,” wrote JCRC President, Bill Gabovitch. “She has elevated our community’s awareness of social justice issues and brought together ethnic and religious leaders from across the spectrum.”

The Boston Jewish community will feel the loss. As philanthropist Myra Kraft told the Boston Globe, Kaufman helped “transform the Jewish Community Relations Council from a little-known Jewish group to one of the highest-profile nonprofits in the city. ‘She made the JCRC what it is today,’’’ said Kraft.

It’s easy to imagine how pleased NCJW’s founder, Hannah Greenebaum Solomon, one of JWA’s “Women of Valor,” would be with Kaufman’s appointment. A superb organizer, Solomon emphasized unity and orchestrated agreements among Jewish, gentile, and government groups on local, national, and international levels—just as Nancy Kaufman did in her role at the JCRC.

Hannah Solomon founded the NCJW in 1893 after a disappointing experience helping to organize the Chicago World’s Fair, where she had no choice but to face the fact that women were expected to be seen but not heard. "The only part of the program they wished us to fill was the chairs," she joked. The daughter and wife of successful men, Hannah Solomon believed that with elite status came the responsibility to serve and care for her community; she regarded philanthropy as an important expression of Jewish faith. Under her leadership, the NCJW not only served its community but became a training ground for women entering politics—a pursuit that was outside what was then considered acceptable for women.

Today, the NCJW is a progressive, grassroots, social justice organization that works to improve the quality of life for women, children, and families and to safeguard individual rights through political activism and advocacy. A Brandeis University graduate who received an MSW in community organization and social planning from the Boston College School of Social Work and a mid-career masters in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Nancy Kaufman is the perfect person to lead the NCJW into the future. “NCJW is poised to expand its impact exponentially,” she said. “I am honored to join in helping the organization claim its ‘chair at the table’ … Working with NCJW offers me the opportunity of a lifetime to merge my lifelong dedication to the universal pursuit of social justice with my commitment to Tikkun Olam—repair of the world—from a particularly Jewish perspective.”

Good luck, Nancy. We'll miss you.

How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Mazel Tov, Nancy Kaufman!." 8 October 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 25, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/mazel-tov-nancy-kaufman>.

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